Chats, Convos, and Children.

Posted by Tiffany Cooper

548942_680988861929998_345737211_n “My husband tried to kill me!” That’s what my four kids heard as the cashier rang up our groceries. I saw my nine year old looking on with a puzzled expression, his mouth half open. In that moment I knew that I would need to explain to my kids the difference between literal and figurative language…and a few other things. As we settled into the car I began the conversation, “Hey guys, thank you for being patient as the cashier rang up our groceries. I know she talked about a lot of things and you might not know exactly how to feel about what you heard so let’s talk about it. She’s had some bad things happen in her life. When she said her husband tried to kill her, he didn’t really try to kill her. Basically he treated her badly and did unkind things. Thankfully, she was invited to church and now God is helping her, which is why she was so excited to share her story. I know you don’t always like it when people stop us to talk and I completely understand how you feel. But think about it, how cool is it that we get to be a part of what God is doing in people’s lives? Because someone invited her to church, the cashier knows who God is and she’s experiencing his love. That’s so exciting!”

Our conversation lasted until we arrived home. Not only did they have questions, they also had their own opinions to share. Children hear more and see more than we sometimes realize. Although the scenarios may seem harmless, children don’t have the necessary tools to properly process the information they’re receiving. Initiating conversations allows us to shape their lives, to make them a part of the ministry, and to deeply connect hearts. If I had ignored the strong statement our cashier made that day, my kids could have left thinking that her husband literally tried to kill her. In addition, I would have missed an awesome opportunity to discuss the importance of making wise choices in life. Seriously, these conversations are my favorite!

Whatever their age, you can have age appropriate discussions with your children. I encourage you to do the following:

  • Acknowledge that your children hear, see, and feel more than you realize.
  • Include your children when you celebrate the good stuff.
  • Include your children when you navigate the bad stuff.
  • Use real-life experiences to shape their lives. Give them the opportunity to apply the principle to their lives. What ifs? Consequences. Making wise choices.
  • Always make yourself available to your children if they need to talk.

Life in the ministry is full of unexpected moments that can actually assist us in raising confident, wise, and purpose-filled children. We’d love to hear your feedback regarding possible “sticky” moments in ministry. How do you handle unusual ministry moments with your children?

Resting is Not the Same Thing as Quitting.

Posted by Heather Palacios

cat-in-hammock Another weekend has come and gone. As we head into a new week, I’d like to propose a delineation: resting is not the same thing as quitting. Resting is temporary, quitting is permanent. Resting is godly, quitting (if it’s not God’s will) is not godly.  Resting keeps you from rusting. Quitting is rusting.  Resting helps you not quit! But quitting doesn’t help you not rest.  Resting is not regretful, quitting is regretful.  I think we can get deceived that resting will mean “I am quitting,” or “I am weak.” But this is a lie the devil’s trying to hell-sell you.  GOD rested on the seventh day. JESUS got away in the mornings and rested in the Father.  I get a lot of things wrong. But one thing I can stand behind is I find time to rest. In July 2000, I was found in a bloody, psychotic mess in a parking lot, and locked up in a psych ward for it. After I was released, I told God I will do whatever He needs to have that never happen again. A large part of my refusal to return to “crazy,” is my emphatic conviction to rest.  You CAN tell people no. You CAN build margin into your life. There is NO WAY God wants us to run so hard we go crazy. What good would His “leadHers” be if we are rendered useless because we refuse to rest? God needs us! But we need to rest so He can use us!  As a new week begins, I hope you enjoy it…and find time to rest in it.

How will you rest this week?

One of those Days.

Posted by Cindy Beall

days That was August 26, 2014, for me.

I woke up bright and early, as usual, and by 7:30 a.m., my very hairy, yet exceptionally handsome 15 ½ year old and I were driving into town to the Department of Public Safety offices.

(Of course he’s handsome. He resembles his momma. Not braggin’, just sayin’.)

This was the day that my son had longed for. The day when he’d ask if he could drive and I would no longer respond, “Son, it’s illegal and I’m not in the mood for jail today.” The whole appointment and subsequent visit to our local tag agency to receive the blessed learner’s driving permit took about an hour.

As he was driving home, because he could now without fear of sending his momma to the county jail, he asked questions about certain laws and rules. And then at one point he was a little too close to the curb on the street so I gently said, “Son, you may want to move over just a bit. Hitting the curb at 45 mph would not be a good thing. The tires would blow out for sure.” He obliged and that was that.

Fast forward two hours and 45 minutes to be exact. And I would be standing on the side of the road looking at my two completely blown out passenger tires and incredibly scuffed and broken rims.

I. Kid. You. Not.

This 15 ½ year old’s mother did exactly what she was teaching her son not to do just a short time earlier. Not only that, but this is like the 47th insurance claim we’ve made in 16 months.

(Not really, it’s the 4th but in the insurance world that is like forty-seven.)

I threw myself a small pity party complete with a few invitations to a few close friends as well as a handful of “what is wrong with me?” comments throughout the day. I mean, who has two house insurance claims, one claim being a total loss, one car wreck, a fracture in her ankle, a break in her foot and a second car wreck all within 16 months?

This pitiful girl (Raising hand.)

Have you ever been there? Just having “one of those days” where you think about how pathetic you are and just wanna curl up in a ball and cry? Crying is permitted, you know. And usually very therapeutic.

Let me encourage you with this…

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23

Afresh. Ahh. That’s a life-giving word, is it not?

What we need is truth from God’s Word and usually a nice, long rest so that we can start over the next morning. Because girl, those new mercies are indeed glorious.

I would love to hear what scriptures encourage you after you’ve had “one of those days”.

Bridge Runs.

Posted by Liz Sarno

Granada_Bridge I am an avid wanna be runner. That means that I start running in hopes of being able to do a half marathon one day, get up to about three miles, and promptly don’t run again for several months so I have to start the process all over again.

A few weeks ago, my husband asked me to go run the bridge near our house with him and since I love spending time with him I agreed. Half of the bridge is uphill and it’s a little challenging for a wanna be runner like me, but I have enjoyed both the workout with my man, and pushing myself to go a little faster and further each week. I’m not gonna lie, my favorite part is when I get to the top and get to run downhill for a while. That is until I have to turn around and do it all over again!

Running the bridge is a lot like life in ministry. You have seasons that it may seem like you are running uphill. Those times can be difficult and force you to push yourself a little harder. There are also seasons that are easier, where you’re running downhill, coasting along with no problem. While the uphill seasons aren’t quite as enjoyable, they are necessary to get you to the point where you can hit your downhill stride.

I’ve learned 3 very important things during my bridge runs that we can apply to our lives.

1) Don’t compare yourself to others. In the time it takes me to run the bridge four times, my hubby can do it six times. He’s faster, better and has more endurance than I do. If I compare myself to him I fall short every single time. So I don’t. When he takes off faster, I just keep jogging along at my own pace. When he laps me I smile and wave and keep running. If I compared myself to him it would diminish the satisfaction I feel after achieving the goals I set for myself. The only person I compare myself to is me. I only try to beat my own time and distance, not his.

In ministry life, don’t compare yourself to others, just run your own race. God has called you for a unique purpose and if you are comparing yourself to someone who is faster better and has more endurance (‘cause there will always be someone!) it will diminish the joy you have in your own calling. Be content to run at the pace where God is leading you personally, and only compete with yourself to ensure that you are being the best you can be.

2) Don’t stop running.  When I’m running in general, especially uphill, there are moments when I feel like I can’t keep going. I want to stop and walk for a minute to catch my breath. But if I do, I won’t be able to start again. I’ll keep finding reasons to stop. So I won’t let myself. Even when I’m running so slow that it would probably be faster to walk, I keep picking up one foot in front of the other and continuing on to my destination.

In ministry life, during those uphill, difficult times we might be tempted to quit, even if just for a moment. In those times we have to challenge ourselves to keep running, even if it’s at an agonizingly slow pace. We have to determine that we won’t stop just because it’s hard, we’re tired, or we’re weak. We have to continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue on the journey God has placed in front of us.

3) Focus on the Light Posts When I was at the bottom of the bridge getting ready to run up I looked at how far I had to go before I was able to run downhill. It was a little daunting. So I started counting the light posts along the way. Once I got to the spot where I only had 5 light posts to the top, I simply focused on making it to the next one. Each one I passed was a small little victory. I didn’t worry about how far away the top of the bridge was, but rather concentrated on just getting to the next pole. Before I knew it I was at the halfway point and could take it easy for a few minutes as I ran down the other side.

In life if you look at how far away the top of your hill is it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on how far you have to run, set little goals, light posts along the way, and simply concentrate on making it to the next one. In Hebrews 12:1-2 we are encouraged to 1…….run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Jesus is the best light post. When we keep our eyes on Him, He gives us the strength to make it to the top of the hill!

If you are in an uphill season right now, how are you ensuring that you make it to the top? If you are currently running downhill, what is one thing you learned on your last uphill run?

Managing Blessings.

Posted by Brandi Wilson

photo August always takes me by surprise. As much as I am craving routine after 8-9 weeks of “play” with the kids out of school, routine seems to smack me in the face and we go from a leisurely 45mph to face-blowing 200mph Nascar speed.

Last week in one 48 hour period I put 255.3 miles on my car. I could totally explain those 255.3 miles to you (football practice, soccer practice, football game all the way across the county, worship night, etc) but I have no doubt you guys know the taxi mom lifestyle all too well.

During one of the many taxi mom trips a favorite quote from Lysa TerKeurst came to my mind. Just the simple recall of her words brought a lump to my throat.

The rhythm of motherhood will always be set to a slightly chaotic beat. I can be rattled to the core by the unpredictability of it all. Or I can choose to laugh, dance, and remember I’m managing blessings.

Not sure what today is throwing at you or what is going on in your home. But as the chaos comes, as noise hits new decibals, as the dishwasher has to be loaded once again, more laundry needs to be folded, and you’re making another trip to the soccer fields just remember you’re managing blessings…and what a gift that is. Raising children is a short season of our lives, way too short if you ask me, but what a gift it is to live this short season to the fullest…to cheer loudly, to laugh endlessly, and to have your heart bursting with pride in your children.

Praying for each of you as you manage blessings and all that involves.